Cyclowiz Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Dirtie, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. Dirtie

    Dirtie :'D

    Former Staff
    Sep 9, 2003
    New Zealand
    Read the review in the post below
  2. Costello

    Costello Headmaster

    Oct 24, 2002 review of the...

    Manufactured by: Team Cyclops

    Written by Dirtie - 25th July 2007
    Revised 27th July 2007

    Review Contents & Index:
    • Introduction
      • Official Feature List
    • Packaging
    • About the Chip
    • Installation
    • Upgrading
    • Setting Up & Using
    • Compatibility
      • Wii Game/Media Compatibility
      • Gamecube Game Compatibility
    • GCOS
    • Homebrew
    • Conclusion
    The CycloWiz was the second Wii modchip to be announced, following on the heels of the Wiinja – however unlike the latter, it promised to sport a PCB with a quicksolder option, and an optional disable wire. Unfortunately for the CycloWiz, it suffered reputational damage because of certain affiliations, and on top of that, the WiiKey which was announced shortly afterwards promised more features on paper, such as being upgradeable via DVD, having region-free functionality, and having D2B chipset compatibility. The last setback was that when the CycloWiz started shipping, people discovered it had a bug which meant that a certain few games would suffer slowdown or not work altogether.

    All this prompted Team Cyclops into action, firstly responding to the WiiKey announcement by updating the feature list to say that the CycloWiz would also be upgradeable via DVD, and then later on releasing a revised version of the CycloWiz to support D2B chipsets. They didn’t stop there however, as they promised an update that would fix the bugs and give the CycloWiz all the features that the WiiKey had – despite many rumours that the chip was not able to be reprogrammed inside the Wii at all. Despite a delay which had some CycloWiz owners expecting nothing but disappointment, the V3 upgrade eventually arrived, finally expanding the feature set of the CycloWiz.

    This review focuses on a 3.0 upgraded CycloWiz only, unless specifically stated.

    Official Feature List:
    • Fully upgradeable via DVD
    • Direct boot of Wii and GC backups
    • Direct boot of GC homebrew (Disc Backup Tool, Media Player, etc.)
    • Runs Wii imports (partial compatibility for NTSC->PAL and PAL->NTSC)
    • Supports all Wii / Drive versions from all regions
    • Fully compatible with D2B chipset and new drive board (V2)
    • Runs Gamecube imports (partially without swap)
    • Built-in, fully working, audio fix (no patch required)
    • Reads DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW
    • Compatible with Multi-Disc games for both Wii and GC
    • Possibility to put many GC games on one disc
    • Improved read (no slowdowns)
    • Open platform: unofficial firmwares can be used (such as Wiifree)
    • Can recover from a bad flash using PC (dvdtool cable needed)
    • Stealth mode
    • P.O.S.T. with LED status (Power-On Self Test)
    • Quick-solder features: no wires required to install the chip
    • Easy installation troubleshooting thanks to the onboard LED
    • Chips supplied in professional ESD packing
    As advertised, the CycloWiz comes in an electrostatic sensitive device (ESD)-safe bag, as does the supplied upgrade switch. Both were securely sealed, and the chip bag had the CycloWiz logo on it – all in all it looks very professional. This doesn’t protect the chip from any sort of physical trauma, however since it is so small, the likelihood of something happening in transit is very minuscule, and practically non-existent if shipped in something like a bubble-wrap bag.


    About the Chip
    The CycloWiz uses a SX28 microcontroller, mounted on a printed circuit board with a few other components, including an LED for troubleshooting purposes. For comparison, SX chips are sometimes called “PICs on steroids” (a PIC is what the Wiinja and some other open source chips use). The circuit board of the CycloWiz is designed in such a way that it allows for quicksoldering, and is overall not too dissimilar to the design of the WiiKey. On the back of the chip is printed the CycloWiz logo, which once again adds a professional touch.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Like others have mentioned, you only get a sense of the scale of this chip when you see it in person – it’s tiny, just over 3 centimetres (around 1 inch) at its widest point. Like all the other Wii modchips so far, the CycloWiz is a so-called “drive chip”, meaning it sends instructions directly to the Wii’s drive controller in an attempt to make writable DVDs appear as standard Wii and Gamecube discs. It is compatible with DMS, D2A and D2B Wii drive chipsets, but currently incompatible with the newest D2C chips. Some of the more recent D2B chipsets also have missing legs on the chip - these are also incompatible with the CycloWiz (without some very risky modifications).

    To disassemble your Wii, you’ll require:
    • a small tri-wing screwdriver (I used a “size 3” which did the job)
    • a small Phillips-head screwdriver
    • a thin, sharp knife (such as a utility/craft knife)
    I won’t cover the actual disassembly process here, as there are plenty of guides out there that can tell you what you need to know; suffice to say that it is straight forward enough. There are a few tips I will share however:
    • Find a good disassembly guide with pictures that you can print, so as you remove each screw, you can tape it to the appropriate place on the piece of paper. This way you’ll remember where everything belongs, making reassembling a breeze.
    • Keep in mind there are two clips to disconnect before you can completely detach the drive from the rest of the Wii. Take it slowly and you’ll notice that part of the bunch of cables attached to the first clip is stored in a gap between the plastic – good to know when you’re reassembling. Also note that the ribbon cable is detached by lifting the edge of the brown part of the clip, there should only be a minimal amount of force required.
    • The screw holding in the battery screws into a tiny nut which sits in a little clip behind the battery cover. Be careful when disassembling or reassembling that this nut does not get lost or dropped somewhere inside the Wii, as it may be difficult to retrieve.
    The CycloWiz requires only 5 quicksolder points or wires to be soldered to the Wii’s drive board for it to function. This number increases to 6 if you want chip-disable functionality, which requires you to solder an extra wire to the Reset switch located at the front of the Wii. However, if you desire upgrade functionality (there is a good chance you will, as will be explained later) on top of that you will be required to solder an extra 2 wires on to the board, one more wire on to the CycloWiz, and install an external switch which will likely involve putting a hole in your Wii’s shell.

    Like others have mentioned, it is highly recommended to get someone who knows exactly what they’re doing to install your chip, as the solder points are tiny, and a small mistake could render your console unusable. You should only attempt to install your chip yourself if you are confident in your soldering ability. If your soldering experience is limited or non-existent and you are determined to install the chip yourself, take the time to do some extensive research on soldering techniques, and get as much practice in on spare/broken circuit boards as possible (practice on the smallest points you can find).

    The equipment you’ll require for installation:
    • a low-wattage, small-tip soldering iron, preferably 15 watts or lower (stay away from cold-heat or gas-powered variants).
    • some thin electronics solder (preferably rosin-cored)
    • flux (optional)
    • thin, insulated wire
    • a wire stripper (or a tool that can be used for the same purpose)
    • insulation tape
    • a drill and appropriately sized drill bit (if you intend to mount the supplied switch on your Wii’s shell)
    • multimeter
    • a pair of pliers (optional, but useful)
    • the official CycloWiz installation instructions (available from the official website)
    I elected to install the chip using the quicksolder method. My previous soldering experience was extremely limited, but after a week or so of research and practice I was ready to attempt the installation. Progress was slow due to my inexperience, but the process went almost without a hitch, and eventually the chip was soldered on to the board then tested with the multimeter, confirming everything was as it should be. Unlike reports from WiiKey installers, the small quicksolder points joined up without too much trouble, so there was no extra wire required to bridge the points – keep in mind that you may choose to do so anyway, just as a precaution.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is where the horror story began however. I only had one end of a single wire left to strip and solder to the external upgrade switch, however the other end of this wire was already soldered on to the CycloWiz. While stripping the insulation off the end of the wire, a small moment of distraction was all it took for the pliers holding it to slip, meaning the wire was yanked upwards, snapping the chip's PCB in half and lifting 3 of the solder pads off the Wii’s board with it. Lesson learned: install your chip in a place where you can work with minimum distraction, always concentrate on the task at hand, and make sure you have plenty of time available.

    At this point you may be wondering how I wrote this review. I won’t go into details, but I will say that it took many more hours, many attempts and much effort to get a snapped CycloWiz installed and working in my Wii. It’s definitely something no sane person would elect to go through if there was an easy alternative.

    The supplied upgrade switch just required a small hole to be drilled in my Wii’s shell, and doesn’t look entirely out of place, although it sticks out quite a bit, and it is possible to inadvertently flip it if it bumps against something. This switch should never be turned on unless you are instructed to do so in an upgrade – however in my own experience of accidentally having it turned on, nothing out of the ordinary happened other than the fact that no discs at all booted.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I did not get a chance to test the troubleshooting LED on the chip, as it was covered by insulation tape.

    The CycloWiz was the first commercial Wii modchip to receive an upgrade performed straight from DVD. The 3.0(C) upgrade expands the features of the CycloWiz, most notably giving it DVD-RW/DVD+RW support, as well as allowing for partial region-free functionality. From what rumours suggest, all chips shipping currently do not come pre-programmed with the upgrade – this makes sense if you take into account Team Cyclops’ statement that the upgrade programs each chip slightly differently, depending on the drive revision.

    The disc image for the upgrade disc itself can be downloaded from the official CycloWiz website, and there is a different version for each of the three main regions, so be sure to choose the one suitable for your console. This ISO simply needs to be burnt to a blank DVD, then inserted and run just like any other game – of course your CycloWiz must already be able to run backups.

    Before running the upgrade however, you should disable WiiConnect24 altogether (in your console configuration), as this may help prevent temporary issues that can occur after the upgrade. The upgrade itself is just a piece of Gamecube homebrew, and includes a nice, simple graphical interface. You will be taken through a step-by-step process, involving flicking the external upgrade switch on and off numerous times and pressing the reset button. After programming, the upgrade will be verified, and if successful you will be asked to turn off your Wii. If you forgot to turn off WiiConnect24, be sure to hold down the power button until you get a red (not orange) light. Either way, after this turn the power off completely at the wall, and leave your Wii to sit for a couple of minutes - this will prevent issues such as discs not working immediately after the upgrade.

    As demonstrated in the video below, the entire upgrade process worked without a hitch for me, and I couldn’t help being impressed by the polish of it – my mind was put more at ease by the simple fact that a switch test was implemented as a precaution before the actual programming. Although it was delayed, it seems that Team Cyclops have sufficient technical know-how to deliver on their promise of an upgrade.

    The CycloWiz upgrade process (3.0B)

    Worth a mention is the fact that Team Cyclops have released a tool that allows people to flash their CycloWiz from the PC, via the use of a custom cable (the same as the one used for Erant's DVD Tool) which plugs into a parallel port on your computer, and must be soldered temporarily to the CycloWiz and/or the Wii's drive board. This means that an attempted DVD upgrade ending in a bad flash can now be corrected, and also means that those people stuck with a CycloWiz V1 and a D2B chipset can now upgrade their chip so it is compatible.

    New: It has been revealed that the CycloWiz will now receive ports of open source chip firmware (such as Wiifree, OpenWii), should you prefer one of these alternatives. Even better is that these firmwares can be applied by DVD upgrade, just as the official upgrade is. Team Cyclops are referring to this functionality by calling the CycloWiz ‘open platform’, and while it may not be truly ‘open’ at this stage, it is a welcome feature nonetheless.

    Setting Up & Using
    The CycloWiz does not use a configuration disc – consequentially there is no configuration needed. Team Cyclops have stated that it is designed to work as transparently as possible, and as such, disables itself as soon as a game boots or if it detects an original disc has been inserted. There is no need for drive speed tweaks, and transparent region-free functionality is always enabled.

    The most control available to the user is being able to disable the chip completely, by holding down the reset button (provided the disable wire has been attached) while turning the Wii on from standby mode (works from a red LED only). While it is debatable whether the chip is detectable by software or not, this disable function should provide a failsafe if Nintendo decide to take more aggressive measures against modded Wii consoles in the future.

    Wii Game/Media Compatibility

    Of course the main function of the CycloWiz V3 is to play backup Wii games. I tested a variety of games on a variety of media. All burning was done with a BenQ DW1640 writer (BSLB firmware, WOPC disabled), along with the highly-recommended software application ImgBurn, and all discs were burnt at their max rated speed. Some people swear that burning slower gives them better results, but I recommend you only do this if you are already having issues at the maximum rated speed – personally I found that the Wii’s laser had a harder time reading certain discs when they were burnt slower, but results often vary depending on your burner/media/software combination. One thing I should mention is that you should ensure DMA mode is enabled for your burner, if disabled this can have a negative effect on the quality of your burns – a Google search will explain more.

    All results here were from tests on a PAL region Wii with a DMS chipset. Notice that in the tables below I included a “media code” – this is the identifier that tells you who the disc was manufactured by. In this way, different branded discs can potentially come from the same factory line.

    First I decided to test some backups burnt to a selection of standard DVD-R and DVD+R recordable media:

    Game nameGame regionMedia brandMedia typeMedia codeBurn speedResultKororinpaPALFujifilmDVD-RProdiscF018xLegend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessPALVerbatim DataLifePlusDVD+R (DVD-ROM book type)MCC 0038xRayman Raving RabbidsPALFujifilmDVD-RProdiscF018xSonic and the Secret RingsPALDSEDVD+RNANYA CLX8xSSX BlurPALVerbatim DataLifePlusDVD+R (DVD+R book type)MCC 0038xWarioWare: Smooth MovesPALMemorexDVD-RCMC MAG. AE18x
    All games tested on DVD-/+R media worked flawlessly, which came as a surprise to me, as disc manufacturers such as CMC generally have a reputation for producing lower quality media. The DVD+R media I tested performed identically with the book type set to either DVD-ROM and DVD+R (the two options my DVD writer’s software allows me to choose). Warioware and Rayman – which had reports of issues before the update – ran perfectly without a hint of slowdown or error. All-in-all, I did not have a single issue with these discs. However, I recommend that people ideally use high quality media just as a precaution, because results can vary greatly between the hardware being used (both your burner and your Wii).

    Next I tested a variety of rewritable DVD media (DVD-RW and DVD+RW):

    Game nameGame regionMedia brandMedia typeMedia codeBurn speedResultAvatar: The Legend of AangPALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414xCall of Duty 3PALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414xCall of Duty 3PALEmtecDVD-RWOPTODISCW0044x[​IMG] (clunky)KororinpaPALSonyDVD+RWSONY S114xKororinpaPALSonyDVD-RWRITEKW012xMarvel: Ultimate AlliancePALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414xMarvel: Ultimate AlliancePALImationDVD-RWCMCW034x[​IMG] (clunky)Medal of Honor: VanguardPALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414xSonic and the Secret RingsPALImationDVD-RWCMCW034x (clunky)Super Monkey Ball: Banana BlitzPALSonyDVD+RWSONY S114xWarioWare: Smooth MovesPALSonyDVD+RWSONY S114xWarioWare: Smooth MovesPALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414xWarioWare: Smooth MovesPALImationDVD-RWCMCW034x (clunky)Wii PlayPALSonyDVD-RWRITEKW012xWii PlayPALEmtecDVD-RWOPTODISCW0044x (clunky)Wii SportsPALEmtecDVD-RWOPTODISCW0044x (clunky)Wing IslandPALSonyDVD-RWRITEKW012xWing IslandPALImationDVD+RWPHILIPS 0414x
    As you can see, rewritable media is more of a mixed bag. The generally higher quality media (manufactured by Sony and Philips) had no issues, other than perhaps taking a tiny bit longer to be recognized by the Wii – however they played perfectly fine. The other rewritable media was a little more touch-and-go. The Ritek manufactured (Sony branded) DVD-RW media did not work to any extent, with the game not even showing up in the disc channel.

    All the ones marked with “clunky” would show up in the disc channel (sometimes the disc would have to be reinserted a few times), however when they were booted the Wii would make some quite loud “clunk” noises (the type that would make you wince) while loading the game. After this the game would either run or just produce a disc read error (DRE). I noticed that with the games that were able to run on this media, the laser would often work harder than normal, and loading would last longer. I strongly recommend against this type of media, as it is almost sure to shorten the life of your Wii’s laser and possibly its drive mechanism.

    The book type settings on the DVD+RW media that I tested (DVD-ROM and DVD+RW) once again made no difference to whether the game ran or not – this is useful information considering that certain drives are unable to modify this setting at all. Overall, support for rewritable media is a good feature to have, as testing games or homebrew without having to waste a disc is very useful. While compatibility with rewritable discs is a lot lower than write-once media, using high quality rewritable media should ensure you get the best of both worlds in these respects. Just beware that write-once DVD-/+Rs will always be preferable, as the risk of placing strain on the laser and disc drive are lower.

    All in all, it is fair to say the compatibility of Wii backups (from the same region) with the CycloWiz is 100% at this point in time, as long as the media is good and the burn is of high quality.

    Finally, I tested the region-free functionality with a single NTSC-U game:

    Game nameGame regionMedia brandMedia typeMedia codeBurn speedResultSuper Paper MarioNTSC-UMemorexDVD-RCMC MAG. AE18x
    As was mentioned earlier, the region-free functionality is always enabled, so all I did was insert the backup and it ran just like any other game. However, keep in mind that the region-free functionality is only partial, and results will be very mixed: I recommend you check out the compatibility list on our wiki to save yourself any trouble.


    I should also mention that games from other regions sometimes include updates which could potentially render your console unusable – such is the case with Super Paper Mario. It is highly recommended that you run the ISO through WiiBrickBlocker (available in our download center) before burning a game from a foreign region, just as I did with this game.

    Gamecube Game Compatibility

    I was fortunate enough to be able to test a large variety of Gamecube backups, burnt to both full-size as well as mini-size (Gamecube disc size) DVD media, and once again the results were excellent. The vast majority games from the same region worked perfectly – even those that would frequently produce errors on a modded Gamecube. Furthermore, I tested a few of the Gamecube games that utilize streaming audio (for which the infamous “audio fix” is needed), and they all worked just as they should. The CycloWiz also claims to allow backup copies of multi-disc games for both Wii and Gamecube to work just fine – one half of this statement cannot be tested, because as yet Wii multi-disc games do not exist. Gamecube ones do however, so I tested the GC version of Resident Evil 4 for which the disc swap worked flawlessly.

    I will note that the couple of Gamecube games I tested simply froze up once or twice (from past experience I know that they would have produced a DRE on a Gamecube), but this was once again simply a product of bad media/burns.

    The built in region-free for Gamecube games works exactly the same as it does for Wii games – not very well. This is because the CycloWiz tries to force the game to use the same video standard as the console (in my case PAL), which often produces less-than-satisfactory results.

    Luckily, there are two much-preferred alternatives:
    -The first is to use a Freeloader or Action Replay disc from Datel. With a drivechip in your Wii, Freeloader does not discriminate between backups and originals. This brings me to some good news for PAL users: if you have an existing Freeloader or AR disc from the Gamecube era (ie. one that won’t boot on an unmodded Wii), it will now boot just fine on your console!
    -The second method is to burn a copy of the homebrew ‘operating system’ GCOS by emu_kidid. Keep in mind that GCOS is still a work in progress, and currently has issues with a small amount of games.

    Both of these methods will allow the vast majority of your Gamecube imports (backups and originals) to play just as they should – provided your TV supports the video standard of the game you are attempting to play of course.

    GCOS (Gamecube Operating System) by emu_kidid is a neat piece of homebrew that allows you to boot Gamecube backups and originals from any region, as well as homebrew DOL (Gamecube executable) files. That’s not all though, because there is a little utility called “make-multiv3” which will create a multi-ISO image with the latest version of GCOS on it. All you are required to do is burn the disc, insert it, boot up GCOS, then select any of the games you included on the disc (or another disc if you prefer). You can fit 3 full-sized Gamecube games on a standard DVD disc this way, with the potential for quite a few more if you shrink the images beforehand. Shrinking comes with the tradeoff that some games may not work however, so be sure to check the Gamecube Compatibility List on our wiki to see other people’s results.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    GCOS compatibility is currently not at 100% (at least in combination with the CycloWiz), and from my own observation it seems to suffer an ‘idle bug’ where the disc will stop spinning and a DRE will occur on certain games (possibly the games with streaming audio). However future versions have been promised, which are rumoured to fix some bugs and add some new features.

    A word of warning: the GCOS version on the official CycloWiz site is likely out of date, so I recommend that you use make-multiv3 instead (available from our download center), as it uses the latest version of GCOS (at the time of writing) which includes the latest bug fixes. If you do not desire to create a multi-ISO disc, you can simply use the application to create an image which includes GCOS only.

    Proper Wii homebrew is not possible yet, but Gamecube homebrew (which is useable on a Wii) has been around for a long time now, and recently certain applications have been updated and developed with the Wii specifically in mind. Current homebrew includes emulators (SNES and Genesis to name a couple), a disc to SD card dumper, and even a version of linux – as well as lots more.

    There are a few options available if you want to boot homebrew. Firstly, you can create a bootable disc – there are guides describing the process (it won’t be covered here), and certain applications (including ones that come with the homebrew itself) can automate the process. You can even use the WiiKey setup disc if you feel like it! (just be careful not to play with the WiiKey configuration options)

    If you prefer, you can create a standard data disc in your favourite burning program which contains all your files, then just use GCOS to browse the disc and boot your homebrew DOL files.

    For those with an SD card adapter, SDLoad can be booted from a homebrew DVD, or as always, using the Action Replay method.

    Overall, the CycloWiz V3 lives up to its promises, and the core features are just as extensive as any other chip on the market at the current time, and work just as they should. The fact that the CycloWiz can be disabled completely and is claimed to operate as transparently and unobtrusively as possible means that those people paranoid about such matters can rest a little easier. Team Cyclops have already demonstrated their technical know-how with a polished update, a PC flasher application, support for open source firmware, and informative news updates on their site – not to mention their DS cart offering is one of the best available at present. This proves that they can aptly support their products in the future if they so choose.

    The CycloWiz is not without its downfalls however. Having to install extra wires and an extra switch – which possibly means cutting or drilling into your Wii’s case – is a big negative. This stems from the fact that the CycloWiz was not intended to be DVD-upgradeable in the first place, and its design is therefore not ideal for this purpose.

    + Perfect Wii & Gamecube compatibility for games from the same region
    + Choice of wire or quicksolder install
    + Partial region free built in
    + Upgradeable via DVD
    + Can be disabled
    + Claimed to be as stealthy as possible
    + Supports all current drive revisions
    + Working Gamecube audiofix
    + Evidence of technical know-how from Team Cyclops

    - Extra wires and external switch needed for upgrade functionality
    - May require putting a hole in your Wii
    - Chip not designed with upgradeability in mind
    - First generation ‘drivechip’ means certain technical limitations in terms of features.

    Score:...Wait, there’s no score? More information on our scoring overhaul coming soon [​IMG]

    External Links:
    - Official Team Cyclops Website
    - Official CycloWiz Website
    - Region-free compatibility

    This review was written for ONLY. The article and all included photos are property of
  3. Costello

    Costello Headmaster

    Oct 24, 2002
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